Do You Have to Go to Court to Modify a Florida Child Custody Order?
If you are a parent in Tampa and need to modify an existing child custody order from a previous divorce or paternity dispute, you may wonder if you have to go through the court. Unfortunately, it is not possible to modify any existing court order without going through the court. A judge must approve, if not determine, the modifications to any court order. To modify the original order, you must show that there has been a significant change in circumstances which could not have been contemplated at the time of the original order. You must also prove the change is in the best interests of the children.
If you and the other parent agree to the changes, though, the process is relatively straightforward and you may not have to attend an actual hearing. If the other parent contests the changes, the process will be much more difficult and you will have to attend a court hearing and let the judge rule on the modification.
Reasons for a Child Custody Modification
There are many reasons people seek modifications to child custody orders. These include:
- The child’s needs have changed
- You want to remarry and would like your new spouse to spend more time with the child
- You or your former partner are relocating for an employment opportunity
- The current schedule is no longer working and needs a modification
The above are just a few reasons why people would want to make a child custody modification and not all of them are legal reasons to change the order. The court most likely will approve any changes made to a child custody arrangement, but the degree of which the court is involved will depend on whether you and the other parent can agree to the changes.
How to Modify a Child Custody Order
Before any changes can be made to a child custody order, you must file a Petition to Modify with the court. The petition is essentially a formal request to the court of your desire for a modification. If you are filing the petition, you are known as the petitioner and the other parent is known as the respondent; however, you will still retain your original classification under the divorce or original paternity case. The other parent will need to be personally served with the petition by a process server or he or she can agree to accept service of the petition, which will help expedite the process. The respondent must file an Answer and possibly a Counter-Modification Petition within 20 days following the date of service. So he or she will have an opportunity to challenge the proposed modifications.
If you and the other parent can agree to the changes, then your modifications will be put in an agreement and signed by both of the parties. It would then be filed with the court with a proposed order for approval. The court will sign the order incorporating the agreement of the parties into the order, as the court is likely to agree to any legitimate changes the parties would like to make.
If the other parent does not agree to the changes, you will both have to attend a hearing. At the hearing, a judge will hear from both sides and determine whether there is a substantial change of circumstances, and if the changes are in the best interests of the child. If so, the court will formally approve the petition to modify the order as to some or all of the modifications.
Do you need a Tampa Modification Attorney?
At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa modification attorney can advise on the facts of your case and whether you qualify for a modification. We will then also guide you through the entire process, so you obtain the best outcome possible. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Se habla Español.